Tuesday, 24 November 2009

734 THE ARCADE FIRE, Clinic, Cardiff International Arena, Tuesday 30 October 2007

At last - having made their sumptuous, soaring single "Wake Up" my number one single of 2005, and after numerous attempts to secure one of the hottest tickets on the circuit, we finally get to see The Arcade Fire! Shame it's an arena gig, but whatever... For Rach's and my first gig together since Logan was born, we decided on a couple of nights away for a mini-break in Cardiff!

So, we left Logan in the hotel room with our hired babysitter, and hit the venue just before 8, parking on the top level of the adjacent car park (uh oh, better get a flyer afterwards...) and getting into this cavernous auditorium, queueing for drinks and taking a stage-right spot while Clinic, all surgeon-masked up as usual, peddled their monotone, innocuous Fall-like dirge without making much impression - again, as usual!

We ran into friends Craig and Rowan after their set, as Craig attempted to hunt down a mobile barman! We'd had dinner with them the night before, renewing acquaintances with an old, close friend, his partner and their 2 amazing sons, including Rowan who, at 13, is cooler than I ever was as a teenager! They eventually disappeared into the melee - Rowan, despite this being his first "big gig", was moshpit bound; good man!

Rach and I however held station for the arrival of the Vancouver, Canada collective that is The Arcade Fire, who entered the elaborately set-up stage at the stroke of 9, all 10 of them taking up their stations and easing into the set opener, the slow-burn, Tex-Mex flavoured "Ocean Of Noise".

The Arcade Fire are a dark, mysterious and occasionally downright menacing melange of any and all musical styles; a bubbling melting pot of Americana, recalling but not resembling the likes of Mercury Rev. Stately, lovelorn, epic, tragic, comic, angular and spooky, it's all here in equal measure! However the 10-piece nature of the band, covering all bases of sounds, string, brass, synth and conventional rock, does make for an occasionally unwieldy set of layers, and despite a spine-tingling "Black Mirror" and a frankly scary, stripped back version of the Violent Femmes' "Kiss Off", it took until an erupting "Keep The Car Running" for the sound to be sorted and the band to really soar. An ebullient, triumphant "No Cars Go" was also stunning, until set closer "Rebellion" rounded off an inconsistent but absorbing set.

We moved to the back for the encores; a patchy "Intervention", my favourite from the new "Neon Bible" album but not quite hitting the epic building crescendos of the album version; and the closer "Wake Up" (the song which persuaded me of the boundless potential of The Arcade Fire) which I'm glad to report they did nail perfectly, a soaring sweeping epic of harmonic majesty to end the evening on a real high.

A total car-park mare ensued, as it took 25 minutes to clear the car park - despite our flying exit! Why only have 2 functioning pay machines in a car park next to an 8,000 capacity venue? Madness! Nevertheless, a splendid evening, despite the occasional hit and miss nature of The Arcade Fire. Worth the wait - and the effort!

Oh, and the set-list above was courtesy of Rowan, who took my gig memorabilia advice to heart, and bagged 3 of the buggers!

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